At the conclusion of every year, I like to make a mental list of things I’ve learned throughout the year. This year, I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve also written a lot. So instead of making a mental list, I decided to write what I’ve learned down. What I’ve learned turned into a list summarizing what I’ve written about, what I’ve talked about with friends, and what I’ve thought about late at night. It turned into a list echoing a letter, partially inspired by a wonderful friend I went to Guatemala with. Do with this list what you will, but I’ve discovered the importance of reflecting on how much a year can change you, on how much you grow over the course of twelve months. Without further adieu, what I’ve learned in 2014.
Dear Me of January 1, 2014,
In 2014, you will:
- be challenged, step out of your comfort zone, learn so much, cry, laugh, heal, celebrate, and mourn.
- experience the healing power of forgiveness without expecting an apology.
- be pushed to the breaking point (again) with one of the most physically and mentally exhausting semesters. You will learn from this and follow it up with one of your easier semesters. Thank yourself for this.
- receive an unexpected apology.
- experience God in new ways: through the first sunny day after a long, dark winter; through the cuddles of a toddler on Friday mornings; through the strength you find to get out of bed in the morning.
- deepen old relationships, discover new ones, and cut ties with toxic people.
- celebrate milestones marking things you’ve overcome.
- rediscover yourself, redefine yourself, learn to love yourself.
- make it through another year. Sometimes you’ll fight an uphill battle; sometimes you’ll walk on solid ground.
- be knocked down, knocked down, knocked down, but you’ll get back up over and over and over again.
- stop writing your book after a long period of self-doubt, and then you’ll start writing again after revamping and reorganizing because you have so many stories churning inside that sometimes you can’t sleep at night because the words inside your head won’t stop screaming until you give them live. And you learned a long time ago about the power of words–how they should not be silenced.
In 2014, you will:
- realize it’s ok to ask for help, to be vulnerable, to let people in. You should not be ashamed of your past.
- learn more about the world, and in doing so, your views and beliefs will be challenged, but in the process you will become more open-minded. What you believe may not line up with what those around you believe. Embrace this. The world in not black and white; it’s a complex amalgamation of issues that cannot clearly be defined. Life is not a math equation, no matter how many people try to define it as such.
- learn that you don’t agree with the way everyone lives their lives. That is ok. Some people don’t have the same beliefs as you. Don’t push yours on them. Love is more important.
- learn to appreciate the little things.
- have a hard time getting out of bed somedays, but you will anyway. Although it may not be until after you have an argument with yourself in which you way the pros and cons: it’s safer here, but you won’t get to see your friends. It’s warm and I’m tired, but you won’t get to learn. You will learn to have faith that the floor will hold your weight, and when you feel like the burdens of this world are too heavy for your legs, God will carry you through it.
In 2014, you will:
- come face-to-face with the ignorance of people. You will be forced to validate your existence to people who make jokes about your past. Look them in the eyes as you ask them to explain how the joke is funny. Watch them squirm as their face turns red. Do not apologize for embarrassing them. Do not accept their apology for cracking that joke. How else will they learn? Somethings are not meant to be joked about.
- learn that some professors wil make insensitive comments. Next time you hand in a journal about a depressing poem, compare the poem to your own life.
- learn that some professors are the most caring people on the planet and give so much time to their students. They will stop you on the sidewalk because they know you are having a hard time. You will pour your heart out to them. Tell these professors how much they are appreciated. Don’t take them for granted.
- encounter people who make you feel insignificant. Don’t speak softly. Assert yourself. Make your presence known. Do not apologize for existing.
- call people out on their behavior.
- realize opinions and beliefs you previously held were wrong. That’s ok, because now you know better. You have matured and learned.
- learn that people are the worst and the best. You will be horrified at the way people treat others, but in the midst of it all, you will realize the good of humanity: out of darkness comes light. Embrace the good. Learn from the bad.
In 2014, you will want to change the world. You will find strength you didn’t know you had. You will start fighting. You will continue fighting.
For 2015, promise yourself you won’t stop. Life is too beautiful to give up.
In 2015, you will:
- graduate from college.
- find a job.
- learn to love yourself more.
It’s a blank book, a blank slate. Embrace it. You’ve come so far in 2014, and 2015 holds so much more promise despite the unknown.
“How do you prepare yourself for another 365 days of uncertainty?”
The You of December 31, 2014.